During the last few years, the vinyl tendency has taken over the music industry once again, making tons of music enthusiasts fall in love again with this awesomely smooth format.
And, with the comeback of vinyl records into the market, record players wouldn’t stay back. Tons of companies have brought new generations of products to match the rise of vinyl records as a collectible and a physical representation of our beloved music.
Since you found this blog, you are probably looking forward to finding the best record player that will satisfy your music needs.
So, in this article, we set for you exactly that, here we listed the 10 best record players that you can find in the market nowadays, and give you detailed knowledge on how to choose the right one for you, as well as quick guides on how to use it and the maintenance needed to keep your device running for years.
Top 10 Best Record Player Review
There are a few things that are relevant to consider when purchasing your new turntable, therefore, according to the criteria that we will provide for you later on, here is the list of the 10 best record players that we found out there:
1. Music Hall MMF 2.2 – Best Cheap Record Player
This was a surprise model of this year. With a high-gloss finish that gives it an elegant and modern look, these devices offer a high-quality sound that is warm and engaging which has power enough to fill the room.
The Music Hall MMF 2.2 is a vivid model that ensures a quality worthy of an experienced audiophile.
To protect your music from any interruption it consists of a belt-driven turntable accompanied with special vibration damping feet to reduce the impact of the movement.
This particular model would be highly recommended for a beginner collector due to its low price and high quality, especially if you are decided to listen to any kind type of records you can find in it.
This model’s operability is fully automatic allowing you to place your disk on the plate and enjoy the music just like that.
On the downside, a 2-speed turntable will leave some records outside your playlist if you ever cross them and the power cord is quite short, you have to be sure of the electricity plugs distance from where you are setting your system.
2. Sony PSHX500 Hi Res USB Turntable
Engineered in the high-quality audio technology of the last generations, this model offers a simple gray and modern design for a turntable that will draw a future to your old vinyl collection.
Integrated shell in the tone-arm stabilizes the cartridge enhancing the sounds accuracy while its belt driven turntable guarantees less rotor movement noise.
Alongside, it is designed in highly durable materials, rubber plate ensures a lot of vibration reduction and the acoustic MDF cabinet improves and warms the sound.
Yet, the main feature of the Sony PSHX500 is the possibility of converting all your precious records in digital formats under its high-resolution analog audio capture technology.
This is an overall perfect model worthy of the few extra bucks and would be a perfect fit for a starting collector, especially if lacking some space due to its portability.
On the downside, this model is a little hard to set up and changing the cartridge is nearly impossible without detaching the cables from the connectors.
3. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Premium
A powerful model with a simple design would be the best description for this awesome record player.
While it might not present the flashiest design ever, it offers an awesome audio output quality for a really low price.
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon presents a wider platter which adds weight to reduce the vibrations of the rotor while its 8.6” tonearm with a moving magnet cartridge gently presses and accurately plays your vinyl records.
Even when this is a simple model, it counts with the possibility of adding new technologies through Pro-ject add-ons such as MP3 recorder/converter and compatibility with Moving Coil cartridges for the tone-arm.
As an item dedicated to improving its usability, this offers a high-quality sound that surpasses all others in its price range, making it perfect for any collector on a middle budget.
On the downside, you will need to add extra features with Pro-ject accessories, which ties you a little bit to the company buying things like the MP3 converter.
4. Audio-Technica AT-LP5 – Best Affordable Record Player
This awesomely designed model offers a grasp of the past without endangering the usability.
It is one of the few models that give you that 60’s feels with a full-manual operability and a direct driven turntable, engineered to improve in such way that reduces the noise drastically.
Presented in a black color with a J-shaped tone-arm, and including its plastic dust cover, the AT-LP5 offers a nice sound quality output for its price while being still a good option for all listeners and DJ’s
This is overall a good option for a beginner collector, especially if you happen to have some electronic music inclination and perhaps would like to use it for DJ in the future.
It counts with almost no weight and occupies little space, making it fit any space easily depending on the speakers that you will use as a complement.
On the downside, this is a 2-speed turntable and will not reproduce all types of vinyl accurately (even when 33-1/3 and 45 RPM vinyl are the most representatives on the market), and being direct driven means more noise to be covered with the movement than in belt driven devices.
5. U-Turn Audio – Best Turntable with Built-In Preamp
This model is the 5-star for beginners and music collectors without much interest in technical knowledge.
It is presented in black or white, with a cool and simple design that offers a nice setup for you as a new collector.
This record player puts away all the extra features to focus its entire budget on improving the sound quality, having, as a result, a very simple record player with a design that allows you to even see part of your turntable’s system while playing.
It works with a 2-speed belt driven device, which reduces the vibration noise, and is powered, to its inner and high-quality phono preamp that works directed to powered speakers.
This is a perfect model for music listeners and collectors, is extremely easy to use and setup and comes with dust protective cover, RCA cables, and adjustable counterweight to reduce any possible flaw on your vinyl movement.
On the downside, the external system, including the belt has to be treated carefully to avoid damage. Also, it works manually which can become annoying in time.
6. Rega – RP1 Turntable
Presented with a simple and modern design with color options in gray, white and black, this model offers a higher performance for a higher price and is dedicated to a more complex audience.
While most of our reviewed items so far are meant for beginner collectors or just music listening, the Rega – RP1 is set on the market for more experienced collector willing to place their hands into modifying their devices.
This model counts with a base that consists on a Rega RB101 tonearm, an assembled sub-platter with a low-vibration engineered motor and an upgraded drive belt.
Alongside, it comes with a performance pack that works as an upgrade to improve your turntable’s quality.
The RP1 manual speed change is highly accurate and superior to other automatic mechanisms allowing it to eliminate the speed inconsistencies and reduce the impact received by the driving belt.
This is overall a good basic turntable which includes a package of pieces for you to adapt its outcome to your taste, making it an excellent choice for collectors that enjoy the technical part.
On the downside, assembling some parts can be complicated and it sacrifices other extra features.
7. Klipsch R-15PM – Best Turntable Bundle
Do you want power? Then power is what you get. Presented in an elegant design that combines black and cobalt, this model includes a powerful set of monitors that will rock out your vinyl records.
This device combo is extremely easy to setup and offers an awesome acoustic performance that warms up the sound while giving you the most accurate representation possible.
Alongside, it includes new technology features such as a Bluetooth connection for you to take advantage of the power of the speakers with your digital devices and PC and TV connection.
This is a one setup device and is recommended for anyone who wants to set a space for its vinyl collection and still wants to play off the digitalized music at the moment S/he enters such space.
Works clear and loud making it cool for creating an environment and doesn’t require any additional accessories to improve its usability.
On the downside, the monitors are great, while the turntable is only above average and would require some maintenance. And, if used as a house sound system, this device leaves Cassette and CD out of the playlist if you have any.
8. Marantz TT-15S1 – Best Record Player for Professional
The only combination of lightweight and no vibration materials available out there lies in this model. It is featured in a transparent white presentation with the base and the platter made of High-Density Acrylic that guarantees low resonance.
In addition, an asynchronous motor is placed outside the system, reducing to 0 the vibration’s impact on the vinyl record playing, while the Magnetic Anti-Skating system takes care of any other possible disturbance that may exist.
This model clarifies the sound output to near perfection while offering an awesome acoustic performance with its 3-speed belt driven turntable system.
All this is resulting in an extremely light weighted device with an awesome design and highest quality output that can be taken anywhere for a sound performance.
The Marantz TT-15S1 is overall an excellent device to play off any of your valuable records as it guarantees an awesome accuracy and power to your vinyl.
It is suitable for most demanding collectors as it tops quality but also enlarges the budget for both purchase and maintenance as some of its replacements are usually found in most expensive turntables.
9. Thorens TD 206 Manual Turntable
This is an excellent device featured in black, gray and red designed bases that support a 2 part platter made of both aluminum and acrylic giving it a cold but innovative aspect while setting a low-vibration base for your vinyl records.
Presenting a 2-speed turntable system with adjustable belt tension to improve the playing performance, the Thorens TD 206 plays protecting all your assets with a system that reduces both noise and energy consumption.
But this model’s main advantage is its zero-stiction anti-bias system which reduces the friction from the needle saving up for your hours of maintenance and reducing the impact that the usage has on your precious records.
The Thorens TD 206 is a model meant for mid-budget collectors, it works out offering a high-quality output with adjustable settings and a super saving technology to keep any collection as new as possible.
On the downside, the adjustable features may require some sound knowledge from your part.
10. Technics SL1200MLK2 Turntable
This model is particularly good for DJ’s and has quite a good reputation due to its durability and resistance. not only that, the high sound quality it offers makes scratching sound more real than in most direct driven turntables out there.
While it has a remarkable reputation in the world of DJ’s, this is still an awesome model to consider for your personal entertainment.
It is presented in a classic metalized design that, while not as flashy as others in our list, is still very suitable for modern places.
About its usability for a collector, it is not as recommended, the fact that it is completely manual means that you actually endanger your collection if not aware when it stops and the pitch adjustments for movement are just too great for scratching while you can get something that fits more for a collector in other items of our list.
The Ultimate Buying Guide for Best Record Player
Latest years have shown us that vinyl is a constantly growing format.
According to the US Record Industry Association, by the end of 2015, the main platforms of streaming entered 10% less than the sale of vinyl records.
Additionally, even some bands get more benefits from the vinyl edition of their discs than what they do from the CD releases.
Therefore, lots of people are enjoying the magic of vinyl records nowadays.
But the key to this doesn’t lie only on the vinyl records. To listen to a good vinyl, you need a good record player whose quality not only allows you to receive a better sound result but also to keep your precious collection alive for a longer time.
You see, the imperceptible grooves through which the music is encoded erode at a faster rate if the weight and pressure of the needle, the ripple of the base, or the power of the engine, are of a lower quality than is necessary, giving you, as a result, a scratched disc.
In fact, a poorly constructed needle head is responsible for a less defined and louder sound, and a plate that doesn’t dampen fluctuations of the base where it sits well enough can cause the vinyl to scratch and suffer sound losses.
As you can see, the turntable system is a set of mechanical pieces that, like a clock, must dance at a rhythmic pace, where precision and stability are key elements.
That being said, we are going to give you some tips part by part, so that you know your turntable better, have an idea of how it works and buy the one that best suits your tastes and needs.
1. The Platform
We would recommend you to search for a base that has gummy feet and very low height, regardless of whether the general manufacture is made of chromed metal, plastic or wood.
The weight of the turntable is essential. There is a popular belief that heavier record players are the best, and it is quite true, because they will absorb more vibrations and, therefore, the plate will have more stability.
Still, if your bucket allows it, there are some lightweight record players nowadays that are engineered in acrylic materials and rubber, which isolates and absorbs every vibration, keeping the sound clear while preserving portability.
2. The Turntable’s System Transmission
Another important detail that you need to consider is the system’s transmission. There are 3 types of turntable Transmission: pulley, direct driven and belt driven.
The direct driven models are ideal for intensive use because they lack more mechanical parts that can suffer wear, are quieter and the movement is more uniform.
The belt-driven record players are cheaper to build, but their parts suffer more with the time and, although they are easily repairable, sooner or later they lose their calibration.
In addition, they take longer to achieve the desired speed. However, they receive less vibration from the engine since in this case it is not located under the disc.
Finally, and by far the most difficult to find in the market, there are the pulleys, which reach the nominal speed instantly, are cheap and robust. But their parts deteriorate easily, add background noise and once damaged, they are really difficult to repair which makes them very uncommon.
In conclusion, pulley driven turntables are off the list, you will probably not find one (unless you look under every stone and find an old one maybe) and there is really a good reason why they are uncommon.
Now, about the real options in game, a belt driven device is the best option for listening to music, as they respect your budget a bit more, are easy to repair and calibrate while avoiding the vibrations that the rotor can cause that might affect the development of the record playing.
And overall, if you have the budget to go for one with a lot of techs dedicated to reducing the rotor’s vibration, or want to use your record player for mixing or DJ, direct driven turntables are the best choice.
3. The Needle Arm
The needle arm is the masterpiece that communicates the vinyl record with our turntable and it can be either Manual or Automatic.
At present, the needle begins to read the vinyl from the first track to the last in many turntables, and all you have to do is press “play” in your remote control.
These are ideal if you will only listen to music.
But you should keep in mind that the manual arms are usually more precise to puncture, or to mix and even more important, their parts suffer less if you want to keep skipping between songs.
The arm ends with the cartridge which ends in a needle that is in charge of reading the sine waves. This is one of the most important elements of the turntable and the end can be either a coil or a magnet.
At this point, we will advise you not to pass your finger over the cartridge. This is a bad habit that messes up its reading ability.
By the way, if you want to digitize old vinyl records to an MP3 memory or have the music stored on the computer with the highest quality possible while preserving the warm feeling that the vinyl format gives to the reproduction, consider carefully the following point.
Usually, your turntable is going to have a stereo RCA input. Even cheaper models have it, including those with a preamplifier.
But it always adds value if your device has a front headphone output and, on the back side, 1/8 “headphone jack input and even a 1/4”, in case that you want to get the audio through your studio monitors or a Home Cinema in the future.
In addition, you may want to have digital connections such as USB or Micro SD and even Bluetooth which are ideal to offer greater communication with other devices and make use of your music in digital formats.
5. The Speeds
Vinyl records are classified by their diameter in inches (12 “, 10” or 7 “), and their rotational speed in revolutions per minute (162/3, 33, 45 and 78) and the sum of these two values results in the capacity of vinyl: LP (Long Play) for 33 RPM, SP (Standard Play) for 78 RPM, EP (Extended Play), and so on.
Most records out there, and this includes the ones in our previous list, are played in 33 and 45 rpm but the more speeds your player has, the better.
On the other hand, the sound fidelity and number of audio channels also affect the amount of information a vinyl can hold. And, finally, we must consider its weight. For example, the 180g Audiophile Vinyl is superior to the standards of 120 and 150g.
Finally, it should be noted that most of the engines should use electrical energy instead of electromagnets, as a feeder, this way the rotor is fed in a stable way avoiding variations in the playing speed.
6. How Much to Spend
The record player’s business is going quite well, and there are literally hundreds of options that go from the 50$ to the 3000$ budget and you can find dozens of amazing features that will improve your music experience, going from DJ turntables to portable and all-in-one record players all the way. Beside, you can also find record player by price category as record player under $300, from $100 – $200 or even under $100.
In the list we handed you above, we dedicated to finding the best record player possible based on its main uses, which are listening and DJ, focusing mainly on the sound quality and accuracy they offer. There you can get awesomely designed items from the 300$ to the 1800$ range.
Maintenance Guide for Your New Record Player
At the moment of acquiring your turntable, it is important that you have some knowledge about its operation, and even more importantly, that you understand that it will require some maintenance work to ensure that it will have a better and longer life.
The first thing to know is that a device that is in use is alive, and therefore, breakdowns or issues are more probable to happen.
Just next, we will classify the different problems that a record player under regular use can have, and the general solution to each problem.
This type of problem usually appears due to the stretching and loss of elasticity of the belts on the turntables equipped with a belt driven system, which can be fixed by just replacing the belt.
In cases of pulley traction turntables, it may be necessary to clean it and apply a rubber regenerator for greater effectiveness. It is rarely necessary to replace it.
In direct-drive models, the problem is usually in the electronic pieces that rule the engine.
In general, it is recommended to lubricate the parts involved in the traction: platter shaft, pulley shaft (if applicable) and motor shaft with lubricants suitable for each case.
You should also know that the rotors won’t usually fail unless there is an error with the energy supply.
Problems of mechanisms linked to automatic or semi-automatic systems.
These type of problem are usually associated with the lack of lubrication in the parts involved with these systems, but it can also be caused by wear or breakage of specific parts of the automation process and in some cases, it is also necessary to make adjustments in specific points, for the correct operation of the system.
Problems Reading The Disc
Record reading problems are usually linked to wearing or destruction of the needle.
Here you should know that there are two types of material to manufacture the needles, synthetic sapphire, and synthetic diamond.
Sapphire needles came mostly from mid-range pickups and record players, associated with ceramic cartridges, and have an average lifespan of around ten hours. On the other hand, diamond needles have a lifespan of several hundred hours and therefore do not require as much vigilance.
The cartridge failure may be due to the mere degradation of the same in the case of ceramics, and by rupture of some of the coils in the case of the magnetic ones. In both cases, you will need to replace the whole cartridge.
Another possible problem is that the vinyl record reading is incorrect due to poor arm adjustment or a failure in the support force and anti-skating or a bearing problem with friction, some of these can be fixed by recalibrating the counterweights on the turntable.
Note that the needle arm is a precision device and that it has to slide through the disc with the highest efficiency and speed of response possible.
How To Change Needles
When it comes to sound quality, the highest quality you can aspire to get when playing vinyl records is determined by the worst of the components you have in your system.
Which means that the quality you can aspire to, will firstly depend on the first link in the chain of the turntable process, the needle of your record player.
The needle is the piece in charge of capturing the sound of the grooves in your vinyl. Therefore, the status and quality of the needle will determine if the final sound will be good or bad.
This being said, is important for you to know that you can clean the record player’s needle
There are liquid and cleaning kits that can be more or less effective, serving as some sort of maintenance rather than general cleaning.
On the other hand, there is the homemade trick, simply pass your finger gently to remove dirt from the needle, make sure that your hands are clean though.
But keeping the needle clean will only work for a certain time, they do have a lifespan and you will be changing it at any moment.
The length of the turntable needle, other than depending on the material, also depends on the weight we are putting it, meaning that the calibration of the counterweights will also have an impact on the needles life alongside with the dirt and the condition of the vinyl records played.
The How-To Part
- You will know when it is time to change your needle when your ears tell you to, this is when you start listening some dirt noise in the sound output or just some wear, that moment when your record is not sounding the same as it did before.
- To change the needle usually, all you have to do is pulling it directly from the arm in the opposite direction of the turntable’s arm.
- Make sure that the replacement needle is compatible with the cartridge. Know the name of the cartridge manufacturer and model. If you bought it in a store, take the old needle with you to get the exact replacement.
- Replacing the needle is simply inserting the new one into the cartridge opening, with the tip of the needle facing down.
Video for Detail Maintenance
Besides maintaining your turntable, you also have to take good care of your vinyl records, consider that their status will also affect the performance of the device in which they are played. So, make sure protect them and store them in the right way.
Now that you have the key knowledge to maintain your record player and understand the importance and how to be aware of the needle’s change, you can use it with total freedom, but if you have any doubt about how to do it, just keep on reading.
How To Use Record Player
Operating your record player, especially for manually operated models, sounds like a complicated thing, but is actually quite easy.
Still, if you are insecure about how to operate it and can’t wait until you get your user manual, here is a small guide on what you will face later on.
- Turntables are often equipped with plastic dust shields to keep components clean when not in use, lift the protector and then close it again carefully once the song is playing.
- Some dust shields will actually be completely removable, if so, just take it away and put it back when you are done listening to your record.
- Place the disc on the turntable. To do this hold the vinyl disc by the edges, place the bolt in the center of the plate through the disc gap, then lower it until it is aligned with the turntable.
- Position the arm, for this many turntables have a positioning feature that allows you to operate a switch that automatically lifts the arm from its place.
- If you don’t have a position switch, carefully lift the arm from its place, while carefully holding the bottom of the capsule handle with your fingers.
- Position the arm above the beginning of the disc, directly above the furrows furthest from the center of the disc which you should be able to see with a large distance between them in the outer perimeter, these lines are indicators of the area before the beginning of the disc.
- Lower the needle and put it on the disk, do this carefully, placing it over the furrows furthest from the center of the vinyl record.
- The needle should fit into the grooves with as few clicks as possible and the disc should start to sound shortly after the needle is lowered.
- When you finished listening to the disc, lift the arm from the record and put it back in place, in the case of automatic turntables, the arm will lift by itself when the record has finished.
With this few steps, you know how to operate a manual turntable easily. In the case that you get an automatic turntable, simply use the positioning switch to set the needle, it will take place by itself and lower down to start playing as soon as you hit the switch again in most cases.
Automatic turntables raise the needle arm when the vinyl record is finished, avoiding the needle from scratching the non-written parts.
With all this on the table, there is nothing more to say than you to enjoy your new turntable.
After this, you have an awesome list of 10 best record player available in the market, including devices for all tastes and budgets that will cover your needs as a collector, casual listener or even Disk Joker.
Then, we went through a precise guide to spare you some headaches at the moment of purchasing and the knowledge that you need to maintain the pieces of your turntable in perfect functioning, including the change of needles and a small user guide for your manual arm record player.
We hope all this information was useful to you and that you enjoyed the ride, make sure to share this with your music loving friends and let us know your opinion in the comments section below and remember, that no matter who you are and what you do to live, thrive and survive there is a perfect record player for you.